I have red the following articles and in general I have understanding when present participle verb form should not be used (when in English in same cases it is used).





So here I am interested which tense to use for actions done now in the moment (ex. Está atacando)

For example, there are verbs that even for actions happening right now present simple form is used: venir, seguir, llevar, ir, andar, necesitar, conocer, entender, querer, saber, tener. Questions :

1) Are there any other verbs in Spanish that use present simple form even for actions happening right now? For example, verb "ver"? In English you would say most likely "I see you now"

2) I got perception that even with other verbs when talking about actions happening right now natives can use 2 tenses interchangeably. For examplein one English movie on Netflix translated into Spanish in one scene I heard:"El enemigo nos está atacando", while in Spanish subtittles I simultaneously saw "Recibimos un ataque duro". It was a scene in which people were under shooting right NOW. So these 2 senses still can be used interchangeably? Or at least it wouldn't be a big mistake to use present simple in such case even if verb can be used in present participle form?

3) In case if these 2 tenses is indeed used interchangeably sometimes for actions happening right now, does it depends (the preference to use one or another) on a particular Spanish dialect or there are other things to consider?

  • 1
    It is like in english "we are under attack from the enemy" (present) and "we are being attacked by the enemy (right now)" (present progressive). Sometimes you can use more than one way of saying the same thing. However you are right in your paragraph #2 the sentence "El enemigo nos está atacando" is in pp tense and "Recibimos un ataque duro" sounds more like past tense (it is also present) and they are not the same. The second sentence sounds better like "Estamos recibiendo..." also in pp
    – DGaleano
    Nov 19, 2019 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


Be careful with sweeping statements sometimes found in language websites. You said:

For example, there are verbs that even for actions happening right now present simple form is used: venir, seguir, llevar, ir, andar, necesitar, conocer, entender, querer, saber, tener.

This is not entirely true. The verbs of movement can often be used in the present progressive, especially when answering a question or emphasizing that you're literally in the middle of something:

—¿Qué estás haciendo?
Estoy llevando a mi hija a la escuela.

One can often use either simple or progressive tense, choosing the progressive when there's a need to emphasize the idea of habituality:

Todos los días estoy yendo a pie desde mi casa hasta la oficina.
("Every day I go on foot from my house to the office.")

Other verbs can also be turned into progressive forms to suggest non-completion:

Recién ahora estoy entendiendo cómo funciona esta máquina.
("Only now I'm getting to understand how this machine works.")

(if you said entiendo that would mean you already understand).

At least in my dialect (Rioplatense, i.e. central Argentina-Uruguay-parts of Paraguay), some verbs that express or imply a request are actually softened by turning them into progressives:

Buen día. Estoy necesitando un martillo y dos docenas de clavos.
("Good morning. I need a hammer and two dozen nails.")

For verbs of perception like ver and oler you normally use the simple present, but it depends, again, on whether you want to emphasize the fact that you're literally in the middle of the event of perceiving. So if you go to a friend's and smell something nice in the oven, you could comment:

Mmmm, huelo algo rico.


Mmmm, estoy oliendo algo rico.

You can also use the progressive as a contrastive form, e.g. when something unusual (in general or in context) is happening at the time:

Siempre llueve en noviembre, pero este año está lloviendo muchísimo.
("It always rains in November, but this year it's raining a lot.")

Ella vive en Estados Unidos, pero está pasando unos días con nosotros en Argentina.
("She lives in the US, but she's spending some days with us in Argentina.")

The subject is extremely broad, so I can't answer for all verbs and all possible situations, but I trust you get the idea. I suppose there's some dialectal variations in some uses, as there is with other tenses, but for the most part these examples should hold true.

  • answer is understood, thank you. I also went through similar thread spanish.stackexchange.com/a/24059/23475 and got the understanding how tricky it can be sometimes. I guess I will need to learn correct usage in different contexts on the go and also depends what I want to emphasize. Could you please check additional statements regarding progressive usage in article realfastspanish.com/grammar/spanish-present-progressive , but only in section "Spanish present progressive vs present tense"? There are several examples you didn't talk about and quite specific.
    – Alex
    Nov 19, 2019 at 22:44
  • I am referrening to 2 examples: "Normalmente ella trabaja en el centro, pero este mes ella está trabajando fuera de la ciudad." and in situation when this year is uncharasteristically cold you can say "Está haciendo mucho frío este verano." This is according to the author of this article. Is it correct what the author wrote about usage of present progressive in these examples?
    – Alex
    Nov 19, 2019 at 23:07
  • Yes, that's another couple of usages. I've added examples.
    – pablodf76
    Nov 20, 2019 at 0:50

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